Moravian First Year Seminars in NYC
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Considering that this was not a routine class fieldtrip, but rather an art department trip, I had several assignments to complete –and less time to actually appreciate the artwork. For drawing and design we were supposed to look at the de Kooning exhibition.
It was after this show that I realized how horrible of an art critic I truly am. I found myself drawn to de Kooning’s most realistic piece –a still from a drawing class. The bowl, pitcher and jug were drawn with such realism that I admire. I spent most of my time in the exhibit trying to understand the technique of his works rather than thought process behind them.
I was drawn perhaps to the least emotional piece in all of the rooms. A true critic digs deeper and judges not only the technique but the ignition of thought. What drove the artist to create this? Why are the strokes so violent, so jagged, and so blue? Instead I looked at what kind of lines he made, they were painted, and they were oil.
It is unfortunate that I now have to analyze de Kooning’s work, a group of pieces I did not come close to understanding. I wish I had done more research on the specific exhibit before the trip. I find it easier to connect the discussion of technique if I see the piece soon after. At least then I know what to look for. Finding some research about the author’s background I think is quite helpful as well (prior to visiting the museum). Sometimes I think that it is easier to make sense of what an artist is doing on the canvas if you know what decade they were working in or
what events or ideas they were influenced by. De Kooning at one point was studying motion. But to someone like me who didn’t know that –he was just randomly throwing color on a canvas.
I honestly feel that though I did not “reap the benefits” so to say and learn about de Kooning enough to write about him, I did learn something –I think that is maybe even more important. I now know that there is more to art then how well it is made. Though I knew it before, I did not truly recognize that intent and background play a huge role in the definition of a piece. This trip to MoMA has taught me more than any other museum visit or classroom lecture. I feel I have become a more mature artist and critic, knowing what to look for and acknowledging what I had missed. I am confident that at my next museum I will absorb and appreciate far more in one visit then I have in all the ones prior combined.
This past weekend I revisited the Museum of Modern Art with my mom. The last time we attended the MoMA together we didn’t have the best experience. My mom ended up becoming sick from being so claustrophobic because the galleries were so packed full of people. This put a damper on my first time in the MoMA and I didn’t really feel like returning any time soon, however, I rather enjoyed myself going on Saturday.
I entered the MoMA with a mission. I had an assignment to find six pieces of artwork, with only a section of each piece on a paper. My mom and I scoured the museum searching for these works and it turned into quite the competition. We both had a great time together and the assignment forced us to look through each gallery and see all the pieces the museum had to offer. After this second time at the MoMA my opinion of the museum has completely changed. I can’t wait to go to New York and visit the Museum of Modern Art once again.
One piece I had to find: Pablo Picasso’s drawing, Interior with a Girl
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Here’s a throwback to our second to last New York trip. This one was another LONG day, and we all know how those really get to me. This time though neither show got me through the day. The stronger of the two in my opinion was Other Desert Cities. It was a simplistic set with not very many characters but it still had very many strong qualities to it. The best part about it was the acting; the emotion all the actors and actresses had was so realistic. I can’t imagine summoning that amount of anger and sadness for such a long period time when you don’t really have a reason to be either of those. At the same time that was what I did not enjoy about the show, it was so angry which is not my kind of subject matter.
The second show, Venus in Fur freaked me out from the time we first started talking about it. It was advertised as “90 minutes of good kinky fun” and that made me question what the heck we were going to see it! Although it did not turn out to be as scandalous as I imagined I still did not enjoy it at all. There were very few funny moments and I just found the plot kind of weird and strange. I was trying to like it but its repetition bored me :(
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
I thought that the way the horses were designed in Warhorse would make it difficult for me to believe there was actually a horse on stage. I didn't think I would be able to ignore the three people required to control the puppet but after a while they really did just blend into the background. I was amazed at how realistic the puppet felt to the audience. I actually found myself feeling sprry for the horse even though I knew it wasn't real; it was definitely a unique performance and above all, very well executed.
Spiderman's stage setup was amazing! The prop designers went to great extents to make the stage look like an original comic book scene. The stage was hardly ever still because the props were switching so quickly. Just as impressive as the props was the way Spiderman swung through the theater. The mid-air fight with the Green Goblin was incredibly impressive! The fight had to be so well choreographed just so the wires on the two characters didn't tangle! However, I could have done without the musical aspect of the performance. It was an interesting idea to make a comic book into a musical, but this show in particular did not benefit from the singing at all. I don't even think the music would have been any more tolerable if the actors were able to sing better. The only way to improve the music would really be to rewrite all of it.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is definitely a treasure of the city. Hurrying up the stairs to get inside, pushing my way through the bustling crowd, it was difficult to really get a good look at the outside architecture. The large columns I did manage to glimpse though were pretty impressive. Inside, there was a really high ceiling in the entry way, giving the place a sense of grandeur within the first five minutes of your visit.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get all that much time to visit the met; you really need a lot of time to make the most of your visit.
The section with the Egyptian art and artifacts was pretty impressive. There was this one room that opened up so it was really huge and part of the ceiling was glass to let in a lot natural light. There were these pieces from tombs that showed different hieroglyphics that you would see on similar Egyptian structures.
The Greek statues were absolutely gorgeous. The various marble figures were so elegantly crafted. It’s a shame that throughout time and transportation that so many of the pieces had parts of them break off. There were missing heads, arms, noses, and various other appendages. Even still, the amount of life-like qualities that were present in the sculptures was absolutely amazing. The smoothness of the skin versus the texture of the fabric of their clothing was greatly contrasted. I have no idea how artists were able to make such amazing sculptures.
The one thing I didn’t like about the met however, was how easily I got lost.
I got separated from the group while I was looking at one piece and I didn’t realize they had moved on to something else. I spent the next 15 minutes or so walking in circles trying to find them, but I couldn’t find them ANYWHERE. There was a simple explanation for that though. They had left the building without me.
Once I was told by one of my classmates that everybody was waiting for me at the bus, I hurriedly tried to find my way out of the maze of paintings I had found myself in. It seemed like no matter which way I turned, I couldn’t get out. All of the paintings were of a similar style so it took me a while before I realized I was pretty much roaming in circles, not making any progress. So I had to swallow my pride and ask a security guard how to get out.
Even with directions from one person, I had to ask any security person on my way out which way the exit was. It was so embarrassing. But hey, I guess I got to see a little bit more of the museum than everybody else in my class did!
I know that I am definitely going to have to find a chance to go back to the met and visit for a much longer time, so I can slow down and really look at the art.
Going to the Cloisters Museum was a very interesting experience for me. Just a week before going there with the class, I had been to the surrounding park for a miniature one-day renaissance faire that is held there annually. When I was walking around outside, I was so intrigued by the building. It really looks like somebody built a castle right in the middle of the park hundreds of years ago. So going there with the class, I was pretty excited and ready to go inside.
When we got there however, this man told us that we weren’t allowed inside because we got there really early before our tour was scheduled. He argued with Professor Baxter and told all of us we would just have to wait outside. Professor Baxter went inside to talk to the manager/owner, whoever it was that could give us the authority to enter. When she came back, we had absolutely no problems.
The Cloisters Museum is so amazing because even though you know that it is a more modern-built building, there are bits and pieces of it that are actual historic buildings! When you look at the building from the outside and actually pay attention to the details, you will notice that there are some sections where the color of the stone changes from dark to light or vice versa. This is where bits of older buildings have been reassembled as part of the newer structure. That’s just so AWESOME that they actually brought buildings over from Europe to remake here in the middle of NYC.
Once you go inside, you need to look everywhere to get the full experience of the museum. There are all different types of architecture throughout the building, real or simulated. Paintings hand on the walls, and are even part of some of the walls! These are called frescos, which are pretty much murals and are really cool. There’s differently shaped windows and some have scenes of stained glass inside of them. Lots of art in the museum tells a story.
My favorite room was the “unicorn room” where a series of tapestries was hung. These tapestries told the story of the hunt of a unicorn. A group of maybe five to ten men accompanied by several different dogs the unicorn and wounded it while the unicorn tried to fight back, kicking people and dogs! These were absolutely beautiful tapestries and were even more stunning when they were first made, before they began to fade.
One of my favorite aspects of the museum was the open courtyards that were scattered throughout. They had statues, fountains, and different types of plants that would have existed in gardens during medieval/renaissance times. I just thought stepping out into the open air was so refreshing after being inside for a while. Also, if you stepped out on the terrace, you could see across the river into the more wooded area of the park instead of the city. It really felt like you were in a medieval castle.
“Around the Riverbend” is a collection of impressionist paintings of the Lehigh Valley area that was on display in the Moravian College Payne Art Gallery for the past month or so. These paintings were from when the town was beginning to develop, not at all like the present day landscape.
There are many landscape paintings that are included in the collection, and they are at once similar and different. Many of them are either looking down into the Lehigh Valley or are along a river at some point.
Many of these paintings are paired up with a photo of what the area looks like today, to show the change of the area over time. This one painting of Glen Onoko Falls for example shows how there once used to be a bridge that crossed over the stream and there was a trail that ran alongside it. There were people scattered along that trail that were either out just to enjoy the beauty of the spot, or they were perhaps on their way to or from the hotel that could only be reached from that nature trail. I wish that I could have gone to that hotel.
Nowadays however, the hotel must be long-abandoned, and the trail and bridge are gone, destroyed by the ravages of nature as it reclaimed the area for itself. It is still a beautiful area though. No housing developments have moved in, and hopefully that land is under some sort of protection from encroachment by society in the future.
My favorite piece shows a moon reflected over a slow moving river. The color of this piece is absolutely gorgeous, with a bluish- purple hue cast over the entire scene. Unfortunately the painting has suffered some damage over the years and there are cracks and lines that have formed in the upper right corner of the piece.
The photo that accompanies this painting makes for a very interesting pairing. There is now a concrete bridge that spans the width of the river, and where in the original painting the moon had been now there is a streetlight. This is just an interesting fact to me, and it’s kind of funny, the way things lined up.
Many of the other paintings were very similar to each other. They either showed valleys full of flowers or perhaps barns or other farming-related buildings. The little details in these were also kind of interesting to look at, such as some of the livestock in the farming pieces. However, I just don’t think the images were really as striking as they could have been.
Either way, this is still a great representation of the Lehigh Valley, both today and in years past.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Warhorse was phenomenal. It is very easy to see why it won several Tony Awards, particularly that for “Best Play.” It depicted the dramas of World War I through the eyes of a horse “Joey” and through the relationships of its characters. The idea to use a “puppet” horse instead of a real horse was a fabulous one, and the puppeteers pulled off the feat really well. I was a bit distracted and confused by the puppeteers in the beginning of the play when the horse was first introduced, but eventually, the realistic mannerisms of the horse overshadowed the humans helping it achieve those mannerisms. The horse breathed, flicked its tail, and twitched his ears. And though physically the horse did not appear incredibly realistic, the realism of the movements more than made up for it. The strong bond between Albert (the boy who was a main character) and Joey, the horse, was a moving one. When it appeared that they could be separated forever, I must confess that I did shed a few tears. In short, the production—in my own inexpert opinion—was absolutely wonderful in every respect. From the acting to the set to the puppets to the music, Warhorse is an exquisite work of art.
Spiderman, on the other hand, is like a piece of artwork that is aesthetically pleasing but technically lacking. It is somewhat like a pretty watercolor painting of flowers done by a child—nice to look at, but from a professional standpoint, there is much room for improvement. Before I go any farther, however, I would like to make two things perfectly clear: I am not trying to say that Spiderman is truly comparable to the work of a child, and unlike many others in our party, I did not hate the musical. I do think that it lacked finesse, though, and that the music left much to be desired. Parts of the song lyrics and parts of the script were corny at times, sometimes uncomfortably so. Perhaps the vocalists could have been better—indeed, perhaps much better. Yes, the plot could have been more fluid. In spite of all this, you may be wondering, can Spiderman have any redeeming qualities at all? My answer is yes. Its redeeming quality, for me, was simply that I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Spiderman’s high-flying acrobatics and the little romantic plot line. I enjoyed simply learning about Spiderman, as this musical was my first exposure to it. I enjoyed the light-hearted nature of it. Also, the cartoonlike props and stage sets didn’t bother me, because Spiderman is generally first and foremost known as a comic. I thought it was neat how that “comic” quality was incorporated into the show. I wish that more people had caught sight of that. All in all, I found it entertaining. I was glad that I went, and that my arachnophobia did not act up too much. :)
While they may have differed in levels of quality, Warhorse and Spiderman, both pieces of art in some way or another, were very enjoyable. The bottom line? I am very glad that I had tickets for both of these shows.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Being extremely sick the night before departing for New York I knew the day was not going to be easy to get through for me. The miserable weather hit us as soon as we stepped of the bus to enter the Museum of the City of New York. Umbrellas were flying everywhere from the strong gusts of wind and everyone just wanted to get under cover. After our tour of the museum I hoped the weather had let up at least slightly, but to no avail. The day continued like that, a less than enjoyable trek through the slush and sleet to from one destination to the next. I usually enjoy our free time but this almost made it seem like a chore; I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep.
By the time we arrived at the theatre for the performance of Warhorse I was thoroughly drained. To my surprise, Warhorse was able to breathe some life back into me. It was an enthralling show followed by an amazing backstage tour, definitely the highlight Broadway experience of this semester for me.
I knew that any show we could see would not live up to Warhorse for me and Spiderman did not even put up a valiant fight. It was not well put together at all and I found some parts of it laughable. I know that it was probably directed for a different audience but I was still highly disappointed.
Altogether I am glad I toughed it out and made this last trip to New York. Warhorse definitely made it worthwhile, along with my devils food cheesecake that I enjoyed on the way home J